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BBC ITV Sexism

Broadcasting Minister Ed Vaizey offers to broker meeting on ‘sexism’ at BBC

By Hamish Mackay

January 26, 2012 | 3 min read

UK broadcasting minister, Ed Vaizey, has offered to set up a meeting between Conservative MP, Nadine Dorries, and BBC director general Mark Thompson to discuss the under-representation of women at the corporation

Vaizey told the Oxford Media Convention yesterday that he was willing to broker a meeting between Dorries, and Thompson, commenting: "I'm happy to broker meetings with Nadine with other influential people in the media,"

Vaizey had initially made the offer during a Commons debate late on Monday on gender balance in broadcasting, in which he quoted from research by The Guardian showing that during a one-month period last year some 84% of reporters, presenters and guests heard on the Today programme were men.

In the House of Commons debate, Dorries called on the government to lend its support in ending a culture of "sexism and ageism” on television – especially at the BBC.

BBC News reported that Dorries said there was a lack of female faces on TV and recommended setting up a parliamentary committee to look into the issue.

BBC News reported Vaizey as saying the government would not interfere with the BBC's editorial independence but added Dorries had made a "valid point".

A BBC spokeswoman later said there was "always more we can do to improve gender balance and it is an issue we take seriously".

Dorries, the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, brought the Commons debate, saying she had been "shocked" at the level of sexism within broadcasting.

Reports BBC News: “Some programming made her ‘cringe, she said, adding: ‘It would appear that in the minds of TV bosses, the viewing public only enjoy watching ageing male hosts accompanied by young blonde females’.”

She went on to quote examples which included programmes on ITV and Channel 4, saying:“I shall list some of the names: Forsyth and Daly, of Strictly Come Dancing; Chiles and Bleakley; Schofield and Willoughby; and Cowell and Holden. Even on sensible Countdown, we find Stelling and Riley. 'Elderly male, young female' is an unchallenged formula."

According to BBC News, Dorries demanded that a parliamentary committee be set up to look at why the BBC had so few female executives, as well as presenters, particularly in prime-time slots.

Vaizey is quoted as adding: "It is an issue th at one has to keep pressing at. Some people might regard it is as a frivolous issue. Some people might regard it as an issue that makes good copy for a parliamentary sketch.

"But actually you make a valid and fundamental point which is that one does want to hear a balance of voices on the radio and one does want to see a balance of presenters on the television.

"One doesn't want to set quotas. One doesn't want to set diktats, but one does want to maintain a dialogue and one does want to maintain pressure."


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